By talking to headteachers and by listening to advice from important BETT stakeholders such as BESA, my team has gained some insight into the numerous challenges school leaders face in what it seems fair to characterise as a time of rapid change for the sector. The Government’s keenness for schools to migrate in greater numbers to Academy status, for example, means that school leaders must become fully conversant with all the financial, legal and organisational considerations involved. We are also mindful of the pace of change in the areas of curriculum, assessment and school inspection.
I was struck by a statement offered to us during a BETT visitors’ advisory panel session we hosted earlier this year. “The most important partnerships schools need to develop,” our group unanimously decided, “will be with each other.” Our sincere wish is for BETT to be a place where new partnerships are formed and where important ideas are shared among leaders from all over the country and beyond. So we’re delighted to be hosting the second annual Education Leaders @ BETT conference alongside the exhibition. A fantastic speaker line-up already includes Steve Munby of the National College, Martin Doel of the National Association of Colleges and Heath Monk of Future Leaders. The key leaders’ unions will be represented by their General Secretaries – Russell Hobby of the NAHT and Brian Lightman of the ASCL. Also, a number of local authorities are represented by speakers up to the level of Director of Children’s Services. A large overall panel of speakers is also strengthened by a line-up of heads and deputy heads from all over England and Wales.
Although the BETT exhibition continues to be themed around transformational power of ICT for teaching and learning, the focus of the conference is rather broader and we feel sure it offers rich learning and discussion opportunities across the full range of challenges schools will face in 2012 and beyond. Encouraged by the positive feedback from the inaugural leaders’ conference at BETT, which was attended by several hundred delegates, I feel sure that this event-within-an-event will be a really important part of any school leader’s visit to our show.